“My boss would ask me the skills I want to improve on, she would let me reflect on them and make my own goals. This is how I learned to succeed. This is how I climbed up the ladder and became a team leader”, says a highly motivated employee who started his career as a management trainee and was ‘helped’ to explore his potential and live up to it.
Does it sound like something your team would say about you? In your role as a boss, do you prioritise listening to your people, getting to know them and their capabilities better, and ‘helping’ them contribute to the business goals in ways that only they can?
The terms teaching, mentoring, counselling and coaching are often used in organisations interchangeably, yet in practice, they have completely different connotations. As John Whitmore, who pioneered coaching in the workplace, puts it:
“Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them”
I recently had an interesting discussion with Qaiser Abbas on how these concepts differ in meaning and how a successful coach tends to accelerate their team’s development. Qaiser, who is the only Pakistani to have received the prestigious Brian Tracy International Excellence Award 2017, is a success coach, motivational speaker, author of the blockbuster book, Tick Tick Dollar and has coached leaders in several Fortune 500 companies in over 30 countries.
Some quick lessons from our conversation:
Essential Ingredients of Coaching
As a coach, your role changes from being an expert to being a facilitator of learning. Let’s understand it in a simpler way: You don’t presume to know more or have better knowledge and command over a subject matter than your coachee. The most important aspect of coaching is believing that each member of your team has the capability, the insight and the will to do what is expected of them, however, understanding that there might be a constraint in the process and subsequently, unblocking that constraint is what your job is as a coach. Abbas further explains this idea beautifully in the video below:
Attributes for Coaches to Master
You know you need to coach your team because it is only when they perform well, you perform well. But, what does it take to be an effective coach?
Let’s understand this from an employee’s point of view. An employee wants businesses to understand them, trust their capabilities, and know that they will deliver. As a coach, ask yourself: Do your people feel respected or do they feel safe to express how they can contribute to the broader mission without being judged?
If you don’t have an answer, ask them. Asking the right questions is a skill that can be learned and mastered. This exercise will open up people to learn and explore their potentials, the way they work, have a sense of ownership and help increase accountability.
Abbas, in the below video, boils it down to certain actions and attributes.
Remember, your goal as a coach is not to motivate people, but to help them find clarity in what they do and how they do it.